YLE – September 17, 2022

Superstars Brad Pitt and Nick Cave on a surprise visit to Tampere: Presenting their own art for the first time, a touching story in the background
The artist Thomas Houseago got help to recover from his famous friends. Now they came to support him at the exhibition in Finland.

Thomas Houseago’s exhibition at the Sara Hilden Art Museum

Actor Brad Pitt tells what Tampere has been like. Reported by Anu Leena Hankaniemi, photography and editing by Jani Aarnio.
17.9. 17:00

It’s all about friendship and honesty in the face of adversity.

Thomas Houseago , who lives in America, is a well-known sculptor, but a couple of years ago he was the end of everything. Art was not born in any way.

Then the guys came to the rescue. And not just any guys. Musician Nick Cave enticed Houseago to draw. First a flower, then something else. Actor Brad Pitt made candles for the sculptor because he was afraid at night.

– Brad Pitt made me these candles and said light them and he’ll be with me at night. It was the kindest and most loving gesture. He offered symbolic protection.

The unconditional friendship touched the artist deeply. Life began to win. New art began to emerge.

Thomas Houseago’s exhibition at the Sara Hilden Art Museum

Art has sensitized the actor to honestly think about life’s solutions. Reported by Anu Leena Hankaniemi, photography and editing by Jani Aarnio.

The trio’s exhibition in Tampere
The results can now be seen in Tampere at the opening of Sara Hildén’s exhibition. Getting sculptor Thomas Houseago’s exhibition to Tampere at the Sara Hildén Art Museum is a big deal.

They had been trying to get Houseago to Tampere for ten years, but finally the right moment was found. Exhibition manager Sarianne Soikkonen says that the artist has been inspired by the space of the museum and Tampere between two lakes.

– Northern nature has appealed to him deeply.

The exhibition is made even more surprising by the fact that, for the first time, the art of two world stars is also included. Actor Brad Pitt and musician Nick Cave came to an exhibition in Tampere on Saturday.

The morning visit has been a big secret. Houseago presents his sculptures and paintings in the exhibition alongside Nick Cave’s ceramic figurines and Brad Pitt’s sculptures. The works are created through interaction between the trio.

World stars nervous
Cave and Pitt are now exhibiting their visual art for the first time ever. They were visibly nervous, even shy, when they appeared to the small number of media at the Sara Hildén museum.

Thomas Houseago’s exhibition at the Sara Hilden Art Museum.

Musician NIck Cave presents his series of statues. Reported by Anu Leena Hankaniemi, photography and editing by Jani Aarnio.
Cave said that pulling a big gig is nothing compared to showing your own personal art for the first time.

– This is really unnerving. At concerts, I have control over the outcome. In the exhibition, people stand in front of the statues and have their own opinions, says Cave.

– I don’t really know what to say, but I’ll do my best, Brad Pitt said.

The trauma hit the surface

Sculptor Thomas Houseago’s childhood in Britain was violent and traumatic. Her father’s death a couple of years ago plunged her into deep post-traumatic stress disorder. The artist, whose works sold for millions, was unable to create art, and a long recovery began.

The trio’s exhibition tells about how friends can save at the worst moment. Thomas Houseago, who lives in Los Angeles, talked about his recovery a year ago in an Artnet publication(you switch to another service).

Thomas Houseago’s exhibition at the Sara Hilden Art Museum.

Thomas Houseago told about the exhibition in Tampere. Reported by Anu Leena Hankaniemi, photography and editing by Jani Aarnio.
His friends have also had a hard time. 58-year-old Brad Pitt is an Oscar-winning actor and film producer. He has also won a Golden Globe and has been nominated for an Oscar several times. Pitt’s private life and marriages with Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston have been followed closely by the world. Cave is a versatile artist who has also acted, written and composed.

Pitt and Jolie’s divorce has been discussed in court, Cave lost his child in an accident.

Both Cave and Pitt say that art is about being honest with life. Pitt talks about self-reflection and says that he has thought about failure in relationships.

– I have taken a radical inventory of myself and thought about where I have hurt others and moments that have gone wrong, Pitt says.

Trust was born between the group of men

The Tampere exhibition Thomas Houseago – WE celebrates liberation from the isolation caused by the pandemic and personal recovery.

According to Houseago, almost everyone has experienced some trauma and tries to hide it. Art is a tool to release trauma. Recovery and hope are the central message of the exhibition.

– Art does not have to be good or bad. That’s the act, Houseago says.

Nick Cave says that the friends belong to a tight-knit group of about six or seven people who meet regularly. They usually eat and talk freely about anything. Both Pitt and Cave have frequented Houseago’s studio, and the artist has encouraged them to sculpt.

Trust has given birth not only to friendship but also to new art.

Barter for a song and a drawing

How concretely has the friendship manifested itself?

Nick Cave made a deal with the artist that he would write a song if Thomas Houseago drew him a drawing of a flower.

Houseago says he didn’t think he was sending a song. One morning, however, Nick Cave sent Houseago the White Elephant poem. This became a song for Cave’s album.

Thomas Houseago started making art again. Alongside the sculptures, large paintings began to appear. He did them outdoors as part of nature, and this was important to his recovery.

Brad Pitt, on the other hand, came with Houseago on his visit to Europe. He promised to support his friend all the time. Among other things, the duo just rested for a week in France, talked and made art.

The same closeness was found in Tampere.

– It has been nice to be here. We had a great spot on the lake and had a campfire at night. It feels right to be here, Brad Pitt described his visit to Tampere.

Strength and fragility
According to Thomas Houseago, his characters are broken. The works have strength and fragility at the same time.

Houseago uses plaster, iron, bronze and wood as its materials. For the exhibition in Tampere, he has worked on works of redwood.

Houseago has also made a new sculpture of a woman, which is a tribute to Alberto Giacometti ‘s (1901–1966) sculpture Woman in a wheelchair (1943, 1962) in the collection of the Sara Hildén Foundation.

During his recovery, Houseago made large-scale Visions series paintings. Their subjects are nature, landscape, cosmic unity and the cycle of life. In the deeply personal works, you can see connections to the European landscape painting tradition and to the Norwegian Edvard Munch (1863–1944).

Nick Cave also has references to Munch’s shadow.

Thomas Houseago’s exhibition at the Sara Hilden Art Museum.
NIck Cave’s pottery has a story of the devil’s growth starting from a baby. Photo: Jani Aarnio / Yle
Nick Cave’s series The Devil – A Life depicts the life of the devil in 17 scenes. It includes 17 individual figures hand-sculpted, painted and glazed by Cave in England.

According to Cave, the series is about forgiveness.

Thomas Houseago’s exhibition at the Sara Hilden Art Museum
The aesthetic of the series refers to the Victorian Staffordshire flat-back pottery ornaments that Cave collects. Photo: Jani Aarnio / Yle
He saw Victorian statues of his grandmother. He also made pottery for his mother, who loved it. Nick Cave believes that of all the art he made, his mother loved the statues he made as a child the most.

When his mother died two years ago, Cave started making statues the same day.

Buried needs
Brad Pitt’s sculptures are also on public display for the first time. Among other things, there is a plaster panel using molds made of the human body, which depicts a story-like shooting scene.

Thomas Houseago’s exhibition at the Sara Hilden Art Museum
Brad Pitt served as the model for his artwork and shows how he made the mold. Photo: Jani Aarnio / Yle
Pitt presents house-shaped sculptures made of transparent silicone placed on a pedestal, shot with different caliber guns. Pitt fired the bullets himself.

Thomas Houseago’s exhibition at the Sara Hilden Art Museum
Brad Pitt says that he has spent time at Thomas Houseago’s studio and that he has helped him. Photo: Jani Aarnio / Yle
The works are still images of the bullet’s trajectory and its destructive power. Pitt describes with his works how pain and violence can exist inside even a nice house.

One of the most personal works depicts a coffin with buried necessities. Needs are looking for a way out from somewhere and somehow.

Thomas Houseago’s exhibition at the Sara Hilden Art Museum
Brad Pitt says that he makes art intuitively. Photo: Jani Aarnio / Yle
The exhibition opens on Sunday.